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Sunday, 26 March 2017

Wild West Campaign Update: Yellow Fever

This session in Dodge, the city was heavy into the Cattle Drive season, and the long awaited opening of the Beatty Hotel and Babylon Gambling Hall was taking place.  The ribbon-cutting ceremony was officiated by the mayor, and the mayor's girlfriend: the beautiful and famous singer miss Dora Hand.

At the same time, Bat Masterson invited over his surviving brother, James Masterson, to take the place of their dead brother Ed as Deputy Sheriff, and as his partner in the Lady Gay Saloon & Music Hall.

James turns out to be less gentle than Ed, and less genteel than Bat. He makes it clear that it's not just family-loyalty that brought him to Dodge; it's also Dodge's reputation as the "Gomorrah of the West".  He quickly makes it clear that he's looking forward to shooting someone, and gets into an argument that looks very tense for a few moments with Kid Taylor, when he takes an interest in Kid's younger sister.

Speaking of Kid Taylor, he ended up having a meeting with the Better People, the rival power-group in Dodge to "The Gang", the group of saloon owners who currently control most of the town's politics.  Kid Taylor was more or less associated with the Gang until now; his former employer Dog Kelly (current Mayor of Dodge) and current employer Bat Masterson (Ford County Sheriff) are both members of the Gang. But he feels he's been underappreciated, plus he's trying to get himself married to the daughter of Better-People member Judge Robert Wright.

The Better People decide Kid Taylor would be a good fit with them now that he's Dodge City's dentist, and want to essentially use him as a spy on the Gang, between now and the next election, in the hopes of getting information they could use.

At the same time, Miss Jenny, the saloon-owner and known beau of former Sheriff and current Marshall Charlie Bassett, gets a visitor of her own, in the form of a New Orleans gambler named Cole.

He's here for the big winner-takes-all high-stakes Poker Game being held at the Beatty Hotel Gambling Hall for its opening.  Bassett is none too pleased with this, but he takes it with his usual stoic resilience.

Then, on the day of the big Poker game, disaster strikes. The great Yellow Fever Epidemic hits (it would end up claiming 13000 lives that warm summer, mostly in the American South).  It turns out that 2 of the PCs get infected: Martin the telegraph operator, who had just secured a steady job writing a weekly article as a correspondent for a Philadelphia newspaper; and Hale the Mormon Gambler, who had just gotten a new job as the head concierge at the Beatty Hotel. Both became quickly ill, along with a few other people in town (most notably the old lady who ran the boarding house most of the PCs stayed at when they first got into town, David the Mexican, and Louie the town drunk - of those three, only the old lady would die).

Beatty and Miller, neither of them infected, had to make a gargantuan effort to try to hide the fact of the disease's presence in Dodge; even though the infection rate would actually turn out to be very low, the scare-effect alone could ruin everything for their new hotel enterprise, and especially, they had to get the Poker game started before anyone could find out, or the whole thing would be cancelled. They resorted to all kinds of shenanigans, most notably temporarily kidnapping Mayor Kelly so he couldn't blab the truth of the matter.  Then they remembered Kelly was actually on the list of participants in the big game, and recruited him as a co-conspirator.  He kept his silence until everyone had sat down, cashed in, and placed their first ante, meaning the 'winner takes all' rules were binding. Then he announced that there was Yellow Fever in Dodge. About a third of the participants up and left in a panic, deciding that the $500 buy-in wasn't worth risking their lives. Thus, the day was saved for Beatty and Miller; not so much for Dog Kelly, as he ended up losing the tournament to the Bar-T Ranch owner, Buck.

As the game ran well into the night, the gambler Cole went from doing moderately well to losing very quickly around 3am. Miller, who is very observant and was supervising rather than participating in the game, noticed this and found it odd. He'd noted (also being a pretty decent gambler himself) that Cole changed his style and took some unusual losses in quick succession; almost like he was trying to throw a game.  It made no sense for a winner-take-all game, unless he had a very good reason to want to leave quickly at a certain time. He also remembered that earlier in the day, Cole had paid a visit to the Dodge city bank.  Deciding to be better safe than sorry, he sent a quick note to Sheriff Bassett about these odd developments.

Sheriff Bassett got together Deputies Jeff Young, Wyatt Earp, and Bill Tilghman, and had them stake out the bank. He went to look for Miss Jenny, to see if Cole hadn't just slipped out to see her in the middle of the night.  It turns out he had been to see Miss Jenny, but to say his goodbyes. She confessed that Cole had lived a criminal life in the past, and was worried Cole was about to do something.

Bassett came back just in time for the lawmen to spot Cole and a couple of associates (one of whom had been working at the bank for the last three months); they were indeed robbing the bank, during a time of year when it would be likely to have the most money (the early part of the cattle drive).  They intervened, calling on the men to surrender. A shootout followed. The rogue banker hid in the bank and didn't participate, the man on the horses ran. Tilghman was too far away to join the fight, his only part being to call on the men to surrender themselves.  But Cole's associate shot it out with Wyatt Earp, and was quickly killed with two bullets to the skull. Cole himself shot at Bassett, the man who'd won Miss Jenny's heart, and Bassett and Young fired back; Cole missed, but the two lawmen put two bullets each in Cole's chest, and he was dead before he hit the ground.

As to the victims of the Yellow Fever, the Mormon Gambler got fairly ill, and in his moment of crisis even tried to settle his affairs with his fiance Becky, willing her his money. But he also prayed fervently to the Heavenly Father and the angel Moroni, and (the player rolling a natural 20 on his check against the disease), miraculously recovered! His faith was now redoubled.

Sadly, Martin, who had been a telegraph operator and journalist, and had only been in Dodge for a few months, was not so lucky.  The fever took him.

That means, though, that next month someone new will be coming into Dodge. Stay tuned next time as the cattle drive season of '78 ramps up!


Currently Smoking: Blatter Diplomat + C&D's Crowley's Best

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Break Saturday: Obligatory Transgender-sex Edition

In today's article, we break down everything that's flawed about a video a feminist produced where she argued that if you are a straight man, and don't want to have sex with any trans women with penises, you are guilty of transphobia.

Historically, there are so many different definitions of 'homosexuality' or 'transgender', why is it that modern western feminists think that theirs is the only right one? Was everyone else just "gaying" wrong?

And as a pro-LGBT person, I'd say it serves no one to make the same assumptions about the changeability of other people's sexuality as some have made about yours.

Anyways, check out the article, and please feel free to share it if you liked it.


Currently Smoking: Brigham Anniversary + Image Latakia

Friday, 24 March 2017

RPGPundit Reviews: Starcluster 4 Free Edition

This is a review of the RPG rules "Starcluster 4: Free", written by Clash Bowley, Albert Bailey and Klaxon Bowley. It's published by Flying Mice games.

This is a review of the print edition, which is a slim softcover volume, about 65 pages long. The Front cover is full-color and features an image of a type of centaur-creature running in a plain. The interior is black and white, and very sparsely illustrated, with just a few images of sample characters and sillhouettes of guns.

Starcluster 4 Free is an edition of the Starcluster series. Bowley has produced a number of different products in this series, each potentially stand-alone but set in the same universe.  Starcluster 4 Free is intended as an introduction to this system and its universe; the PDF version is free to download, and the print edition (which I am reviewing) is sold at cost.  It also includes a developer's license which would allow people to use anything from this book in 3rd party products.

The book starts right off with character creation, no introduction whatsoever. It includes only two species: humans, and german-shepherd uplifts.

Characters are created by using the species template to start with, and then modifying the base statistics (Strength, coordination, agility, endurance, charisma, intelligence, psionics, and luck) via a random die roll.
Each ability score governs a list of skills and of special traits.

Skills are purchased through 'templates', these are bought with 'template points'; the number of template points you receive are based on your character's starting age (the older you are, the more points you get to buy skills, but after a certain age you also start to lose physical attributes). All characters, regardless of age, start with one background and one education template; the former represents your origins (based on family social class), while the latter your early education (with options being 'hard knocks', apprentice, engineering, management, pre-med, science, art, military, or athletic).

Each of these templates provides certain basic skills, an attribute bonus, and in the case of backgrounds an 'edge' (for example, 'lower middle class' gets an edge in "urban", while 'plutocrat' gets an edge in "social").

Beyond these, skill templates (representing later studies and training) work through a series of skill-trees, where you have to take earlier choices before having the chance to get later ones. Each selection has a cost in template points, and sometimes have prerequisites; they grant you certain skill points and sometimes a new 'edge'.

There's a selection of basic equipment (with guidelines regarding tech levels).  There's also optional rules on having "Psi skills".

Some versions of Starcluster feature more than one resolution mechanic, a peculiarity of Bowley's game design. In this book, however, there's only one mechanic system included: the "Starpool" system.

The basic resolution involves rolling 1d20, plus 1d20 for each point you have in a relevant skill. Each die that gets equal or less than the governing attribute counts as a 'success'.
Using a trait point gives you an extra d20 to roll.
If you have a relevant "Edge", then the relevant attribute gets a +1 (so if you have an INT12, but your 'social' edge is relevant, the target number for roll-under would be 13).

Different circumstances could provide modifiers for or against.  A small modifier would adjust the target number by +/-1. A large modifier would add or remove 2 dice from the rolling pool.

Very basic rules for combat are included; they're based on the same mechanic, plus a choice of different damage methods (damage boxes, damage states, or an attribute pool of 'hit points').

And that's basically it.

So what's this product good for?

Well, it's very very basic.  I think it can be useful, mainly, as a way for people to check out the basics of the Starcluster system to decide if they like it, before buying other Starcluster products.
It provides the basic rule mechanics if someone wants to make a product of their own using the Starcluster system, with the license.

However, on the whole, this strikes me a just a little bit too barren to be of real use in actual play by itself.  I get why the designers would have gone the way they did, but I think that it would have been a useful touch to add at the very least a couple of pages of introductory material about the setting.

Still, you can't really argue with "free". And that's what makes the PDF worth while, as a kind of preview to give you an idea of what Starcluster looks like. Even if it's just a tiny hint.


Currently Smoking: Stanwell Deluxe + Image Virginia

Thursday, 23 March 2017

DCC Campaign Archive: Dutchmen Just Show Up

When we left off, Bill was nerding out in the library, blissfully unaware that many of the other PCs had just survived the bomb implanted in Teal by the Guardian Robots (Teal didn't survive).  Now the secret of the Guardians' plans to kill all humans (and mutants) was out, and the PCs decided to warn the people and gather together the High Council of Wizards.

This was also the 4th anniversary of our campaign.


-"Celebrating 4 years of the DCC campaign escalated quickly into cake-buying!"

-Everyone watches Teal/Mu's player carefully to see if he eats cake as weirdly as he eats pasta.

-Mu's player asks the Pundit to make a ruling on Psychic powers.
"I'm torn. On the one hand, if Pundit gives Mu what he wants, that might someday benefit one of my characters. On the other hand, it would benefit Mu, so..."

-Pundit rules on it.
"I like that ruling! It might someday help my future characters, but it doesn't really help Mu!"

-"It's too bad Teal died.."
"Is it though?"

-"I'm cool, I'm in the library. I don't give a shit"
"Yes, but you need 2.6 more days to actually learn your spell."
"yeah, so?"
"You need the city of Lol to still exist for another 54 hours or so."
"Oh, shit."

-"OK, but technically, Bill doesn't need to be in Lol, right? He just needs the books..."

-Malaprex the Violent and Uncle Roman are whispering to each other.
"It's Ok, I trust Roman, he's family!"

-"Do you really think Bolt-1 and the Guardian Robots could hope to defeat the council's combined power?"
"I have INT 7; I don't really think that much about anything."

-"You see, BOLT-0 cannot perform magic because of his big claw hands. So he made BOLT-1, who can."
"...why didn't he just make new hands?!"
"He has mysterious ways."

-Malaprex confides with the PCs that he thinks Lol is doomed, and he really just wants to steal everything he can and get the fuck out of Dodge.

-The Guardians decapsulate Morris.
"Just relax, man."

"Ok, well, I know he fucked this green mutant witch-queen in the Shithole."

"Well, did you know he only has one testicle?"

-"Why are you lying about me to robots!?"

-The Guardian Robots explain to Morris how Teal was blown to bits when they implanted a bomb in him, but failed to kill Bill the Elf.
"Why are you telling me this?"
"..OK, sure!"

-in all this, Heidi had been on his way to Bellmunster's tower, when he was attacked in an alley by a group of vicious cats with paralyzing bites and the ability to sprout wings. They flew his paralyzed body to a tower, whose inner architecture had the form of an enormous cat-palace.

-Heidi is revived by Fluffy the Cat, archwizard of the High Council.

-He speaks telepathically, through his human, who is held in a human-sized carrying-cage.
"Tell me, Heidi... what do you most desire?"
"To save the people of Lol!"
"Such a selfless desire... this is odd for someone who chooses to travel with Bill the elf!"
"I never really got a choice."

-"Heidi didn't choose the Bill Life, the Bill Life chose him!"

-"I have an offer for Bill, to defeat Sezrekhan and keep his current level of power."
"Not interested."

-Heidi is allowed to leave, through the exit, which consists of an enormous brass door with a large cat-flap.

-Malaprex, Roman and the humans are in the sewers, trying to find another entrance into the turbolifts leading to the spacedocks, because the regular terminal is flooded with panicking crowds trying to escape the city. In the sewers, they run into a blob-creature, which malaprex promptly shoots to pieces.
"You know, that might just have been like, an alien guy."
"I don't care."

-Next, they run into a group of frog-people.

-"I guess you guys can come with us; welcome to the mercenary life."
"We are not mercenaries. We are freedom-fighters."
"well, we fight for economic freedom..."
"Economic freedom is a fundamental Kekistani value!"

-Having failed to use Heidi as a messenger, Fluffy the Cat sends a messenger-cat to Bill, in the Library. The cat explains to Bill that the city is on the verge of total chaos.
"Man, when did things start to go so wrong?"
"I'm pretty sure it was Bill's first adventure."

-Mu was looking for Bill, and gets to the library entrance after making his way past frantic mobs and rioters. There, he meets Grizlor the Library-Receptionist Wizard.
"I'm looking for Bill the Elf. I'm a wizard!"
"Are you his apprentice?"
"I was, until he left me stuck in the Shithole."
"Is that what the young people are calling it these days?"

-"Do you know what's going on out there, Grizlor? Aren't you going to run for it?"
"No. I was born in this library, and I'll die in this library."

-"The library is very large. It's larger on the inside. I'll get a page to guide you to Bill."
"Like, an animated page from a book?"
"No, just a servant."

-The page and Mu walk in on Bill stuffing books into his Breifcase of Holding, having been warned about the eminent potential destruction of Lol.  The cat-messenger was acting as his lookout, but Bill totally ignored his warning mews.

-"Theft!! Theft!!"
Bill Planar Steps out of there.

-Mu is pissed.
"That asshole of my former master left with a bunch of books."
"wah wah my ex is an asshole, he left me in the Shithole... man up, dude."

-"So is this place defended?"
"Not really, but I trust that the council will take care of these problems shortly."
"You're fucked dude, I'm out of here."

-Morris has been freed by the Guardian Robots.
"Is there any shooting happening?"
"no, though you hear shooting in the distance."
"That's music to Morris' ears."

-"Is my credit still good?"
"Well, most of the city is on fire, so no."

-Morris was left near the library, and he sees Mu coming out, all pissed. A bit later, both see this thing that looks vaguely like The Predator come out of the library.
"I'm betting that's something that's been sent to hunt down Bill for stealing books. Let's follow it!"

-Heidi gets to the outside of Bellmunster's tower, only to run into a crowd of people who have become Sezrekhan-zombies. He manages to bluff them by walking past them with the same blank stare repeating "all is Sezrekhan".

-Bellmunster's Owlbear Butler opens the door to the tower.
"All is.. er, I mean, I need to talk to your master."

-Bellmunster has other animals servants: a duck cook, disney-style animated brooms, and dire-weasel guards.
"Dire weasels are the deadliest predators of Bellmunster's tower!"

-Bellmunster is trying to get the wizards together to do an assault on the Guardian Robots' HQ, now that the Guardians have started to come out and Exterminate people. While Heidi waits, Bellmunster has a platypus in a doctor's outfit give him a healing potion.

-Roman, Malaprex, the frogmen and the humans had originally joined a merchant to get to his merchant ship, but then they set their minds on a much more impressive Grey Realms Transdimensional Mercenary Cruiser. Only, it's got a protective force field defense system that's disintegrated anyone who comes near it. Roman thinks he's figured out how to disrupt it; but to test it, they throw the merchant toward the ship. The merchant gets disintegrated.
"Hmmm... give me a sec."

-They try again, for which purpose the Blacksmith shanghais a random organge mutant. This time, the disruption worked!
"We're good!"
"I helped!"
"Yes, you did. Welcome to the exciting life of a mercenary!"

-"Yes Heidi, for getting past the Sezrekhan crazies, you get 1 XP. Which is more than any of you have gained in the last two sessions."

-"This has been a very interesting adventure, but not big on XP."
"Yeah, we haven't had many fights for the last while."
"Just you fucking wait!"

-Inside the mercenary cruiser, the Blacksmith and the Kekistanis raid the armory. The Blacksmith gets himself a top-of-the-line Exoarmor with a jet pack attachment. The farmer gets aquapants.
"What the fuck are aquapants?"
"They're pants that look like they're made out of water. Grey Realm beings are weird."

-While following the Predator, Morris & Mu find a giant hamster (about the size of a pig). It appears to be someone's pet, who was set free before they fled. Morris feeds it some peanuts, and Mu decides to take it with him.
"What are you doing with that thing??"
"I need love!"

-"I'm going to blow the Horn of Dutchmen"
"One sec, I have to look up just how that works again.."
"I'm pretty sure that Dutchmen just show up."
"...Yup, you're right."

-"You know, we could use this mercenary cruiser's dimensional drive to.. well, no, that would be a bad idea."
"A bad idea, Uncle Roman? Tell me more!"
"Well, we could try to make a short jump inside the dome that covers Lol."
"You really think that's a better idea?"
"Well, define 'better'."

-"If this doesn't work, will we all die?"
"I like those odds!"

-Heidi tells Bellmunster about Roman Beckett. Bellmunster decides that he will find him on his cystal ball, and teleport him over. He finds Roman working on his calculations in the ship.
"Should we take anyone else?"
"Yeah, take those two human guys with him."

-Roman and the humans are teleported to Bellmunster's tower. Seconds later they can see the flash of light in the sky as Malaprex and the Kekistanis take off, abandoning them.
"son of a bitch!"
"Well, there goes the exciting life of a mercenary."

-"I've brought you here Roman, because Heidi says you know a great deal about the Guardian Robots. You may be our only chance to defeat them."
"And why were we brought here?!"
"Heidi felt the two of you might also be useful."
"That's a fucking lie! You KNOW we're useless!"

-Bill gets to Fluffy's tower, but runs into Myla and the resistance. Bill agrees he'll help them to wipe out the Guardians (mostly just to shut the resistance up) but that first he has to go to the tower. Myla insists on going with him.
"I don't trust you!"
"Why not? I love genocide!"

-"I suppose I don't have much choice. But if you betray us, I will get you back!"
"Hey, I betray a LOT of people. But you never know, you might just be the lucky one!"

-Not allowed to follow Bill into Fluffy's sanctum, Myla comes back out just in time to see Morris, Mu, and the "Predator".
"Where's Bill?"
"He's inside."
"I'm here to kill him!"

-The Predator can't seem to enter the Tower, either due to wards, or its magical programming. So Mu steps up to the door and knocks. A cat comes out of the catflap.
"Is Bill here?"
"Can I come in?"
"Can you give him something from me?"
"This pinless grenade?"
"Oh. Ok, then I'll wait for him here."

-Bellmunster and Roman set up a plan whereby they'll teleport inside the Guardian HQ and sabotage the Guardian's communications network.
"Well, good luck with that, guys!"
"We should all go!"
"...fuck you, Heidi."
"you can go if you want, dude, but not me."
"We should take them all, Bellmunster. Random cannon fodder was very useful to me last time I was in the Guardian's base."
"'re becoming my least favorite uncle."

-"Don't worry, I've been against worst odds."
"I haven't."
"Oh.. well, in that case you'll probably die."

-Bill meets Fluffy.
"Welcome, Bill the elf! The city of Lol is doomed!"
"That's too bad, the brains were pretty cool."
"Yes, I also like brains."
"Um, I meant in the mausoleum, the brains of deceased archwizards."
"...Yes... that's what I meant as well..."

-"Man, I would have liked for Bill to hang out with Emirikol."
"I think one Bill per era is more than enough."
"Zero is really the ideal."

-"You must see by now, Bill the elf, there is no purpose in serving Sezrekhan anymore. You could serve MY master instead: Rataxes the Imprisoned."
"Could we free him?"
"That is the idea. Together, we could free him."
"Yes! That sounds totally awesome!"

-Fluffy explains that he is not only the diabolist in the High Council, he's also the one who's responsible for the Hippomagus' disappearance; having tricked him into going to get a powerful artifact called the Sunstaff and then imprisoning him.
"But.. you're not going to trick me, are you?"
"Of course not!"
"Ok, cool."

-According to Fluffy, Rataxes (if liberated) could use the Sunstaff to pierce the Crown of Creation itself, kill Sezrekhan, and take the place of G.O.D.
"But then wouldn't we have the same problem as with Sezrekhan"
"No. He would not wish to assimilate all into himself like Sezrekhan does. He would want to rule over the world and plunge it into eternal darkness."

-"So he's a sadist, not a narcissist. Cool!"
"The 'darkness eternal' thing isn't sending any warning signs to you?"

-"So, after we conquer the world, we can still go adventuring, right?"
"... we, the loyal servants of Rataxes, would RULE the world! There would be no need to adventure!"
"But, then what would we do all the time?"
"Torture lesser creatures, eat, sleep, groom our fur, many things!"
"So, stuff cats do all the time..."

-Bill takes a look out the window of the tower, sees that Morris is still down there.
"Hey, Morris!"
"Hey, Bill!"
"Tell the rest of the group... goodbye!"

-"Bill, wait... can I go with you? Look at my puppy-dog eyes!"
"sorry, no time!"

-"So, are we ready to teleport to the Guardian Headquarters?"
"Remember, even if we die, what we do today we do for the city of Lol, and the High Council of wizards!"
"Screw you, you bearded asshole!"

-In spite of the Farmer and the Blacksmith wanting nothing to do with it, they (along with Bellmunster, Roman, and Heidi) teleport into the Guardian Headquarters.
"Now what?"
"We need to get in that room, guarded by two of the robots.  We can use the farmer as a distraction."
"Don't worry, we'll rescue you."
"Why did you just laugh as you said that??"
"It was nervous laughter."

-After the farmer provided a distraction, the rest of the team broke into the control room. While Roman frantically tried to hack the communications system, Bellmunster and the PCs were forced to hold off oncoming Guardian Robots. Bellmunster demonstrates his awesome wizardly power, but he's also quickly taking hits (hits that would have killed any lesser mortal). The blacksmith hides behind a panel. Heidi shoots his gun at the robots, knowing full well his bullets can't actually hurt them, and counting on the robots ignoring him and hitting Bellmunster instead.

-Roman gets control of the Comms, and issues the order that all the Guardian Robots should move immediately to the main entry hall of the HQ. Bellmunster prepares to teleport the other PCs out.
"but... you're staying?"
"Don't fear for me. I will finish them, and survive."
"I wasn't really fearing for him, but I'll let him think I was. I'm actually thinking about looting his tower if he dies."

-Bellmunster teleports the team outside, near the market. In the distance they can see massive signs of damage from the epic battle the rest of the Council members (those who answered Bellmunster's call, that is) had with the Guardians.
"I wonder if any of them are still alive?"

-Just then, the Guardian's Headquarters explodes in a massive fireball! Bellmunster clearly used some serious spellburn to blow up all the Guardians after hacking them to gather in one place... but did he live?

-Finally, Bill and Fluffy teleported themselves to another high-orbit asteroid, a seemingly uninhabited one called Gebo.
There, they see a large black monolith.
"Within, we shall find our destiny."

-"I hope Bill gets the AIDS."

That's it for this session. Who on the council survived? Is Bellmunster alive? Has the threat of the Guardian Robots been stopped? Will Bill and Fluffy free yet another universe-threatening demon?

Stay tuned for these and other exciting developments in our next session!


Currently Smoking: Blatter Diplomat + C&D's Crowley's Best

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Classic Rant: "Only Players Roll" Is Precisely the OPPOSITE of 'Good Design'

I know it's become a trend lately, in some RPGs in certain quarters, to have a system where the GM never gets to roll the dice, and only the players roll for everything.

Now, in some cases, we could say that there may be nefarious motivations for this, based on a longstanding distrust certain groups have toward GMs in general; there's been for a long time a line of thought among certain gamers that the GM should be if at all possible 'deposed' from "power"; and if that's a motive then forbidding the GM from rolling dice is a particularly egregious case of anti-GM paranoia; it presumes that the GM will "cheat" on his rolls and thus abuse the players. 

But let's ignore that for a moment. Let's assume that these games have no anti-GM bias going and their motivation for making all rolls the responsibility of the players is some kind of attempt instead to make the game somehow more 'fun' for the players. If that's the case, this mechanic is still really bad design.

It misses the point, you see, of the fundamental purpose of the RPG: to Immerse in a character you play in an emulated world.

It would seem the people who push forth this notion of taking the dice away from the GM never really got that point. A lot of them are some of the same people who were at one time trying to equate Immersion with either Fraud or Mental Illness, so go figure.

But for most gamers, as fun as rolling dice can be, the real epic moment is that instant where you are totally immersed in the game, where you are just your character, and almost forget you're playing a game. Where it feels real.

Any time that you are suddenly interrupted and told "roll the dice" is a moment that snaps you out of that state, at least a tiny bit. It interrupts immersion.

There's a reason why players of games like Amber, Lords of Olympus, or Lords of Gossamer and Shadow, end up talking to everyone who'll listen (and some who don't care to) about these intense roleplaying experiences, campaigns full of epic character development and close personal attachment to the game: it's because in these games, the rules almost disappear for the player. You just know your strengths and weaknesses, and you just play your guy. You don't have to fiddle with points, you don't have to interrupt what you're describing to roll the dice.

If anything, if the point is to get the best possible roleplay experience, the exact OPPOSITE of what the anti-GM crowd are suggesting is the ideal scenario: the GM should roll all the dice.

That's a theoretical, of course. There are plenty of players for whom the rolling of dice is part of the fun, even if it's not the central aspect of RPG play. And there's a reason why the formula that's worked so well all these decades is one where both GM and players roll dice at particular times and to varying degrees. But really, of the various options (no dice, GM rolls all, Players and GM both roll, only players roll), the least useful for developing roleplay and immersion is the scenario where all the dice-rolling responsibility falls on the players.


(august 20, 2014)

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Break Tuesday: Real Magic Items Edition

So today, I present to you a short list of historical objects which were attributed with magic powers. Most of these real "magic items" through history can still be seen today.

And for my part, I've used at least 4 of them in my different RPG campaigns. 

So, check out these Magic Items That Really Existed!  And if you like it, please reshare!


Currently Smoking: Stanwell Deluxe + Image Virginia

Monday, 20 March 2017

The Heroic Fantasy Handbook (plus some Sword & Planet Barbarians)

I'm working on my medieval-authentic fantasy handbook, and have very little time to write.

So instead, I'm going to point you guys to a kickstarter my friend Alexander Macris at Autarch Games is working on: the Heroic Fantasy Handbook! It's an OSR book (ostensibly for ACKS) which will cover the heroic fantasy genre and take some bold moves in changing some of the fundamental assumptions of how the standard D&D mechanics worked.  Here, heroic fantasy is defined as being "everything that Tolkien and Robert E. Howard have in common, when you take away everything they don't have in common". Other influences include Burroughs, Clark Ashton Smith, Moorcock, and Lovecraft.

But that's not all! Being offered in the same Kickstarter is the Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu book, which is a kind of barbaric Sword & Planet science-fantasy book to bring the elements of that genre to your ACKS or other OSR game.

So check it out. I'll note I haven't read the products myself, but Autarch's track record is pretty good, so I'm sure the nature of these books will be of interest to some of my regular readers.

(also, I'm not working on these books, or for Autarch at all, and am not being paid to promote this, duh)

Anyways, I'll probably share some more details of my own Lion&Dragon Medieval-Authentic RPG in some coming blog entry. Stay tuned!


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